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Fifteen.

Sometimes we need to get out of the torrent of information to consider what is sweeping us along.

We spend the majority of our attention on very few people. Our five closest connections take forty per cent of our time, and the next ten takes twenty per cent. The maximum number of personal relationships we can deal with is one hundred and fifty, so the remaining one hundred and thirty-five have to share the forty per cent that’s left. Once we get beyond that one hundred and fifty, we cross and “us versus them” boundary. (if you want the detail, see Robin Dunbar’s book “Friends.”) If we want to change things, its down to fifteen of us.

That means it’s that improbable that we know any of the people making the news, and that, in turn, means we’re in the middle of a narrative battlefield, being shelled by all sides.

Very few people, who are expertly crafting that narrative, actually know what’s going on either. We are subject to a description crafted with intent to harvest our attention for theor own benefit.

Turn to the idea of six degrees of separation (now arguably slightly less). We may not know the people in the news, but we are closer to them than we think. We could filter that narrative through people we know, or can find if we put in the effort, but we don’t. It’s easier to consume and gossip.

The reality is that most of what happens to us is not in our control. We can influence the parts that are by changing our behaviours; what to pay attention to, what to say, who to help. 

Those fifteen relationships I started with will determine those behaviours and, in particular, the five closest to you. You will influence theirs in the same way. The changes they make will impact the other four(teen) in their world. It’s a ripple of reality.

Shouting at the news won’t help, nor will Twitter, or Facebook. The only people we can influence are those fifteen. If, however we can connect enough fifteens, that’s different. Fifteens scale very quickly.

Stay out of the narrative battlefield. It saps energy we can use to do something more useful. 

Filed under: Articles

About the Author

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Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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